REVIEW: The Eurovision Song Contest 2012

Loreen from Sweden as she romped home to victory with Euphoria

The Eurovision Song Contest can be a rollercoaster of emotions for the artists taking part. From the thrill of qualifying for the Final, to the dejection of failing to make the last 26. The Final of Europe's Favourite TV Show, on Saturday 26th May was won of course by Loreen from Sweden as she romped home to victory with Euphoria. It was a runaway victory for Sweden in the end. The runners up came from Russia, Buranovskiye Babushki and third place was won by Željko Joksimović of Serbia.

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Rehearsals in Baku Have Started

Albania was the first country of 45 to test out the stage at the brand new Crystall Hall in Baku. Shortly after an amazing experience in Düsseldorf the EBU started a close cooperation with Ictimai TV, the Host Broadcaster of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Across the European continent, people have grown up with the remarkable tradition called the Eurovision Song Contest. In recent years, new members were welcomed. Not only did they join to be part of that pan-European tradition, they were challenged by the concept of this musical battle. Azerbaijan was one of those countries. Viewers and professional judges from all Europe picked Ell & Nikki’s Running Scared, the country’s fourth entry to the contest, as winner, and thus as host for the 57th Eurovision Song Contest.

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Sennheiser Providing Wireless Microphones and Monitoring for the 25th Time

For the Eurovision Song Contest – with its semi-finals on 22nd and 24th May and the grand final on 26th May – more than 150 wireless microphone and monitoring links will be operating in the newly-built Baku Crystal Hall. As well as the microphones for the artists and presenters, this includes the microphones for the opening act and the interval show, production microphones, microphones for the rehearsal room and press conferences, and wireless monitoring systems for the artists, presenters and technical crew.

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Clay Paky Dominates at Eurovision Song Contest 2012

German Lighting Designer Jerry Appelt specified a spectacular arsenal of lighting for the magnificent, brand new arena. More than 1.400 moving lights (2.891 fixtures total) allowed the 42 contestants, plus an elaborate interval act and opening performance, to have a completely unique look during the overall 7-hour broadcasts. The overall goal of the lighting design was to mimic and compliment the architectural design created by Stage Designer Florian Wieder. Of the 1.400-plus moving heads, 667 were Clay Paky.

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Outstanding performance: grandMA2 at Eurovision Song Contest 2012

MA Lighting took 100% control of the show. 8 x grandMA2 full-size consoles, as well as 5 x grandMA2 fader wing ran all lighting, triggered via Timecode. 15 x MA NPU (Network Processing Unit) devices and 21 x MA NSP (Network Signal Processor) handled all traffic in one session on the MA-Net2. “I feel very good having grandMA2 on this show, it’s very reliable and that’s so important with a show of this magnitude,” said Appelt. “Its Timecode is the very best. Absolutely every millisecond is cued and then rehearsed again and again and again. The MA system always delivers a great result.” Preprogramming was accomplished on a grandMA 3D running on five custom built Cape Cross PCs. In total there were 78 patched universes and 4,310 cues.

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Parasol Debuts at the Eurovision Song Contest

In addition to the show’s diverse range of music and huge fan following, Eurovision has become the event to watch when it comes to stage technology. Each year the crew behind the lighting, staging, video and sound is known to push the envelope with their use of new products and unique ways of using them to create amazing effects. Amongst a stage and ceiling filled with hundreds of lighting fixtures, the ParasolTM KLRTM (Kinetic Light Ring) system stood out as the centrepiece over the stage. The Parasol KLR system allows moving lights to move along a circular truss in any configuration at up to 60 inches per second. Stopping, starting, reversing, accelerating and moving to an operator-specified position are all controllable features, providing entirely new ways of creating art and spectacle with moving lights.

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World Premier: SpeedWinch

Almost noiselessly the fully stabilized Nettmann StabC Compact head with camera speeds down from the ceiling of the Crystal Hall in Baku. Held by two ropes running through a winch, being powered by a 7.000 watt motor, the camera system reaches top speeds of approximately 6 m/s.  “SpeedWinch” is the name of a brand-new specialized camera system invented by skillful engineers working for the German company RTS Rail&Tracking Systems in Winnweiler, Rheinland-Pfalz. There was a period of only four months from the decision to provide the product to the final completion. Record time!

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Spectacular LED and Video Installation Supplied by CT

After the successful ESC 2011 held in Düsseldorf, Creative Technology (CT) was again chosen as partner of BRAINPOOL TV GmbH on behalf of Ictimai TV for the realisation of this unique TV stage set providing a stunning LED installation in the recently built Crystal Hall. CT Project Manager Alexander Klaus was highly satisfied with the project in the remote Azerbaijan area: “I am overwhelmed with the Eurovision show here in Baku and the perfect match of the team that had previously and successfully worked on Eurovision 2011 at home in Düsseldorf. Any challenges of this major project in Baku were handled as part of a team alongside the other parties and partner companies with the overall realisation of the project being part of a long-term co-operation with partner Cape Cross Studio & Filmlichtgesellschaft mbH.

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Rising to Every Challenge

Since mid-April, 60 carpenters, decorators, electricians, painters, draughtsmen and fitters have been working shifts day and night to create the stage concept. One particular challenge faced by project managers Benjamin Neuen and Fabian Bäter in Hamburg this year was the planning and preparations. The unfamiliar situation on-site in Azerbaijan, the distance to the host city and the special import requirements meant that the MCI workshops had to plan more time for the complete realisation of the project and begin with the preliminary construction work as early as January.

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Rocking Baku: Riedel MediorNet and Artist

To broadcast the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan the German Broadcast production company Brainpool TV on behalf of Ictimai TV, used an extensive installation from Riedel Communications. Riedel, one of the leading manufacturers and providers of real-time networks for video, audio, communications and data, installed a comprehensive network infrastructure consisting of MediorNet, Artist, RockNet, professional radios and wireless video links. Furthermore, Riedel was responsible for five wireless video camera systems consisting of Grass Valley LDK 8000 equipment including wireless transceivers.

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Alfacam : The Audiovisual Partner of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest

Alfacam, the Belgian company delivering services to TV stations and production houses, has a long and successful history with the Eurovision Song Contest. This year Alfacam was chosen by ESC-producer Brainpool as a provider for technical installation and live High Definition broadcast for all three evenings across Europe. In total two OB trucks, two assist trucks, two sound mobiles trucks, one main switch truck and more than ten key Alfacam staff will cover the entire event.

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Standing Still is not an Option

Standing still is a thing completely alien to the Belgium TV Broadcast and OB van provider Alfacam: For ten days, five OB trucks with up-to-date technology were on their way to Baku for broadcasting this event in optimum quality. After this job, they will go straight to Kiev for the European Football Championship 2012 and then travel on to broadcast from the Olympic Games in London. Regarding sound, Alfacam relies on Lawo technology – like the routing system Nova73 HD and the mc²66 consoles. From Belgium, the trucks took the road to Romania, passing the Black Sea to transit Georgia and finally arrive in Aserbaidschan’s capital Baku, this year’s venue for the Eurovision Song Contest.

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Eight Soundcraft Vi6™ Consoles on Duty

The 57th edition of the Contest, held in the capital city of Baku, ran entirely with sound equipment provided from Germany—and Soundcraft digital mixing desks were used exclusively. Cologne-based Brainpool was responsible for the production and sub-contractor Toneheads executed the audio element of the show. Toneheads already had a large inventory of Soundcraft Vi digital desks, and having provided successful solutions for shows like Schlag den Raab, TV-Total, and more recently Unser Star für Baku (the event seeking the German song entry for this year’s ESC) the decision was made to invest in several more Vi6s. This was based on the sound quality, reliability, user interface and flexible MADI routing capabilities of the Vi6, and enabled Toneheads to present a uniform line-up of the consoles at the newly-developed, 23,000 capacity Crystal Hall.

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Battling it Out for Europe’s Highest Vote

A month prior to the finals, production of the visuals commenced. Event Engineers together with Nick Charalampidis, Product Specialist from Green Hippo, began set-up and programming of the system alongside writing some new features to support the huge task ahead of them.  This year the content resolution was really pushed for LED screens with 4000 x 3000 pixels being used and a few customisations back at Green Hippo HQ along with the outputs of 6 active Hippotizer HDs genlocked together made this possible. Being monitored by multiple Zookeepers all aspects of the show could be controlled remotely around the vast Crystal Hall.

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Crystal Hall in Baku Illuminated by FALCON Searchlights

With the urgency implicit in the title of its own entry, "Running Scared", Azerbaijan had within the space of a few months erected an arena of exceptional architectural merit in which to stage on its own territory the Eurovision Song Contest. And to ensure a light show every bit as magnificent, the crew that had handled last year's final in Düsseldorf was retained: Cape Cross Studio + Filmlicht GmbH as general technical contractor along with lighting designer Jerry Appelt. Also present were a host of FALCON luminaires from A&O Technology. Their task was to ensure not only that the performers on stage shone but also that the venue itself was seen to best advantage, through an artistically choreographed light show. When all the votes were in, the result was incontrovertible: Loreen, with her song "Euphoria", won by a landslide, ensuring that the venue for the next Eurovision Song Contest, in 2013, will be Stockholm. In fact, the 372 points garnered by the Swedish singer gave her the second highest score in the history of the ESC.

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Our Cable for Baku

Within the lighting network 8 consoles, 14 NPUs (10 active and 4 spare units) plus 18 NSPs (14 active and 4 spare units), allocated among 11 locations in the hall, were controlling the more than 3,000 fixtures. On all locations manageable switches,  interconnected via singlemode fibre-optical lines, were being used. As connector system the HI-FIBER4 series from German manufacturer HICON was used in combination with the highly flexible 4-fibre SC-OCTOPUS PUR line from SOMMER CABLE, another German manufacturer.

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Cape Cross Studio + Filmlicht GmbH Supply Eurovision 2012

Cape Cross GmbH is quite familiar with the challenges of the Eurovision production, having supplied all the equipment for the 2011 show in Duesseldorf. For the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, held at the 23,000-seat Baku Crystal Hall in Azerbaijan Cape Cross once again supplied the technical equipment. The long list contained all lighting, truss and control desks with nearly 3000 lighting fixtures on the roster and full support of all equipment. Alongside lighting designer Jerry Appelt, (who was also the lighting designer of Eurovision 2011), the impressive lighting rig nicely complimented the new arena. Three concentric rings of a Parasol KLR (Kinetic Light Ring) system with circular motion, equipped with Alpha Beam 1500s, were used over the stage for a dynamic effect. Lighting Designer Jerry Appelt said of Cape Cross Studio + Filmlicht GmbH, “I know when I deal with them, I’ll get the very best equipment and support. There’s no challenge too difficult for these guys and I can always feel assured that the desired result will be exactly what is expected.”

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Toneheads Deliver Stellar Sound for Eurovision Song Contest 2012

Baku hosted 42 participating countries spanning three live broadcasts – two Semi-finals on May 22nd and 24th and the Finals on May 26th. The 2012 Finals had a live viewing audience of 23.000 plus an estimated 125 million television and internet viewers worldwide, making it the largest music television program in the world.
Toneheads Ltd of Cologne, Germany supplied all audio equipment and technical support for Eurovision, under the leadership of Florian Kessler. This is no small task, given that the production is first and foremost a television format but with a large live audience in an arena. Toneheads also supplied all microphones and in-ear transmitters and receivers for all of the performers. The design of the arena sound was fairly straightforward, with a few challenges along the way. The team had to evenly distribute audio to all parts of the arena, with Eurovision being the very first event in the new venue. “We were also dealing with a low trim height – only 16 metres. That posed some design challenges as well,” said Kessler.

The Grand Final Of Eurovision 2012

Tonight, the Grand Final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast LIVE from the Baku Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan, where 26 countries will compete for the title of Winner of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. EBU Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand says the stage is now set for a night of great entertainment on Saturday. "The 57th Eurovision Song Contest is Europe's favourite TV show, guaranteeing everyone is a winner on the night. Whether you're at Baku Crystal Hall or sitting in front of a screen, you won't want to miss a moment."

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Sweden Wins 2012 Eurovision Song Contest

It was an exciting evening at the Baku Crystal Hall where in front of thousands of people in the arena and millions of people on TV, Loreen from Sweden won the 2012 edition of Europe's Favourite TV Show with 372 points! The final outcome was decided by a 50:50 split between professional juries and televoting from all 42 participants. The jury votes were decided during the Jury Final last night and the televotes decided during tonight's show. The 26 finalists were made up of 20 qualifiers from the first and second Semi-Finals held on the 22nd and 24th of May and six automatic qualifiers including the Big 5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the host country Azerbaijan.

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